Ultracold Diamond: More than a girl's best friend

Sept. 15, 2005
Researchers at the Russian Academy of Sciences and Los Alamos National Laboratory have discovered superconductivity at ultracold temperatures in cubic diamond.

Ultracold Diamond: More than "a girl's best friend"

The discovery offers the potential for a new generation of diamond-based applications and even suggests the possibility of superconductivity in silicon or germanium, which forms in the diamond structure.

The Russian-American team discovered superconductivity in a boron-doped diamond-structured carbon material that had been synthesized at very high pressures and temperatures. The diamond material was fabricated in Russia and brought to Los Alamos where its superconductivity was discovered.

Of course, diamonds are naturally good electrical and thermal conductors because of their regular atomic structure. But subjecting a graphite and boron carbide mixture to pressures of nearly 100,000 atmospheres and temperatures of roughly 4,000 to 4,600°F let scientists transform diamonds into a superconductor that carries electricity with no resistance at a temperature of 450°F.

The discovery of superconductivity in diamond-structured carbon suggests the possibility of new forms of diamondbased integrated circuits. Scientists think one day it may be possible to create a form of superconducting silicon that would allow computers to operate even faster than previously imagined.

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